Thursday, July 30, 2015

Our Sympathetic High Priest: Facing Our Temptations

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone is trying to comfort you, but they have never experienced what you’re going through? It’s hard to trust in someone’s sympathy when they’ve never been where you are. As humans, we seek shared experiences. Without them, bonds of trust can be more difficult to form. Sympathetic High Priest

Yet Christ is our ultimate Comforter. And He truly understands everything that we go through. In our time, the church, the Bible, and God are often considered to be irrelevant. Something established two-thousand years ago can’t apply to the present, they say. Conceptions about God are out-of-date and out-of-tune with a post-modern age. That’s what some say.

I disagree.

Our God is timeless. He has no beginning and no end. And His relevance to our lives certainly doesn’t end just because some human time has passed.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest Who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14 –16

That’s what I love about this passage in Hebrews. We can stand confident in the fact that Jesus understands. It’s easy to think that, because Jesus didn’t come to Earth in our time, He didn’t face the same temptations as us. That’s not true.

In Matthew 4, the story is told of Jesus facing Satan in the wilderness. He faced three separate temptations, and in them can be found the same issues we confront.

  • Security: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread,” Satan says in verse 2. Jesus had been fasting for forty days. I imagine He must have been starving. Imagine the picture of soft, delicious bread dancing before your eyes as you stare at the dusty rocks. You’re God in human flesh; of course you can create food right then and there. Now, Scripture doesn’t specifically say Jesus imagined those things, but He was human. Yet Jesus chose to trust in God’s plan. He knew that He was in the desert for a reason; He chose not to put His immediate needs in front of God’s purpose. There are many security needs that can be overwhelming for us: food, shelter, money, relationships. And in our search for them, we can so easily lose sight of God. Jesus knows what it feels like to need something badly. He’s there to lift you up when Satan attacks you at your time of need.


Courtesy of Pixabay

  • Control: Satan next took Jesus to a high building and told Him to jump, trusting God to save Him. I’m sure Jesus knew that God would save Him. He could have stepped off that building and felt completely in control of the situation. Instead, He chose not to test God. We come up against so many situations that we want to control. All of our anxiety comes from wanting control, and most of us are extremely anxious. Yet letting go of control is freedom. Jesus knew that He didn’t have to be in control; He was letting God direct His path. When we face the desire for control, He’s right there, telling us He knows and urging us to let go.
  • Power: All the wealth of the world. All the power in every kingdom. Immense. Amazing. Unfathomable. Satan offered it all to Jesus and He refused. One of the great struggles of humankind is the struggle for wealth and power. We want it so badly. We make it our idol. We hurt ourselves and others in the pursuit of power. It can be as simple as wanting to be friends with the “cool kids” or as drastic as creating an empire that spans the globe. It’s all about power. And it all takes our focus off God. Satan tells us we need power to be happy. He told Jesus the same thing. Yet Jesus responded that only God deserves our worship. When we face a longing for power, Jesus knows what it feels like.

It’s interesting that the passage in Hebrews talks about Jesus as our sympathetic high priest. Jesus isn’t like our politicians, seemingly so removed from our lives that their “representation” is ludicrous. Jesus walked among us; He faced our trials. He was tempted by the desire for security, the fight for control, and the lust for power. And He overcame them all. He understands whatever it is you’re going through. He knows what it feels like. He cares. So don’t be afraid to take it all to Jesus. He’ll hold you in His arms and give you the strength to overcome.

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